Fan Confidence Poll: April 11th, 2016

Record Last Week: 3-2 (35 RS, 24 RA)
Season Record: 3-2 (35 RS, 24 RA, 3-2 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Blue Jays (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Mariners (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

DotF: Rumbelow hurt in Scranton’s loss

Triple-A Scranton (4-1 loss to Rochester)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 0-5, 1 K — off to a 1-for-13 (.077) start, so clearly last year was a fluke and he’s a bust
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 BB, 2 K — threw a runner out at second … he’s gone 1-for-4 in all three games so far
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 2-5
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K — on fire to start the new season
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Cesar Puello: 0-1, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 CS
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 41 of 60 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 0/2 GB/FB — 13 of 20 pitches were strikes (65%) … he went out for a second inning but left the game with an injury during warm-ups according to the team’s Twitter feed … supposedly the Yankees are going to try Rumbelow as a starter this season, and this seems like it was going to be a tandem outing with Swarzak, three innings from one guy and two or three innings from the other guy, etc.
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0-1 GB/FB — 29 of 45 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K — 22 of 33 pitches were strikes (67%) … at this point he’s probably first in line for a call-up, assuming he is rested whenever the need arises

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

The Yankees and Tigers have already been postponed due to bad weather, and while it sucks having no baseball to watch tonight, not having to stay up until midnight to watch nine innings is pretty cool too. ESPN Sunday Night Games are just the worst. Hate ’em with a passion.

So anywhere, here is the open thread for this now baseball-less night. Today is the final day of the MLB Extra Innings package preview. You’ve got a few hours left to take advantage. The West Coast games are currently in the middle innings. The Islanders, Knicks, and Nets are playing tonight as well. Talk about those games or anything else here.

Inclement weather postpones series finale in Detroit


Tonight’s series finale between the Yankees and Tigers has been postponed due to inclement weather in Detroit, the Tigers announced. There is no official word on a makeup date yet, but Marly Rivera hears it will be July 28th. An official announcement will be made soon enough, I’m sure.

The forecast calls for bitter cold and rain/snow in Detroit pretty much all day and into tomorrow morning. I looked at the weather report not too long ago and it did not appear as though there will be any kind of window to play tonight. Not even a five-inning game. No sense in dragging this out and waiting. Good on them for banging the game early.

This was the Yankees’ only trip to Detroit this season, which stinks, so they’re going to lose an off-day and come back later this season. Assuming that July 28th date is correct, the makeup game will be sandwiched between a series in Houston and a series in Tampa Bay. Also, the Yankees would play 24 games in 24 days immediately following the All-Star break. Yuck.

The Yankees have a scheduled off-day Monday — the Tigers are playing tomorrow, which is why they can’t make the game up then — so they have back-to-back off-days now. They open a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday. I assume the Yankees will keep the rotation on turn and start Masahiro Tanaka in the first game against the Blue Jays.

Last season the Yankees were not rained out until September 10th. They’ve now been rained out twice in the first week of this season. Baseball.

Checking in on Ivan the Reliever

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

The choice facing Joe Girardi for whom to pick for the fifth starter’s spot was not necessarily an easy choice; however, it wasn’t actually that consequential either; he Yankees’ season will likely not hinge on how the fifth starter performs and the differences between CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova as starters in 2016 are not big enough to make any decision horribly wrong or unequivocally right.  Both pitchers have had one appearance thus far and both have made their manager look pretty wise, small sample size caveats in tow.

Yesterday, Sabathia became the first Yankee starter to complete six innings in his win over the Tigers. Last Wednesday, Ivan Nova took over for a shaky Michael Pineda and earned a save in the Bombers’ 16-6 win over the Astros. He allowed four hits and one walk while striking out five across his four innings of work. As the defacto long reliever/this year’s Adam Warren, that’s exactly the type of performance the team is looking to get out of Nova and he delivered. So, how did he do it? To toot my own horn, he took my advice.

Back in January, I wondered about the possibility of Ivan Nova being highly successful in the bullpen given his repertoire of pitches. I ended the piece saying:

Ditching a fastball may seem like an odd choice, but it may be best for Nova if he’s going to succeed in a relief role. Moving into the ‘pen and out of the rotation is about simplifying your game and the simplest thing Nova can do is use his two best weapons–his bowling sinker and his effective curve. If he can do that and harness the power of those two pitches, perhaps he can move from just a long-man to an effective short reliever. The chances may not be great, but this is baseball, after all, and stranger things have happened.

Apparently, Ivan listened. In that relief appearance last Wednesday, Nova relied primarily on his sinker and his curveball; he threw 32 of the former and 13 of the latter. The sinker netted him a 75% grounder per balls-in-play rate and the curve got him an 80% whiff-per-swing rate. I’m a genius, huh? In all seriousness, this approach isn’t rocket science and it’s one that’ll make him successful as a reliever. The fewer pitches he uses, though, the more likely he is to run into trouble if one of them isn’t working. Still, if he’s a reliever, he won’t be turning the lineup over more than once–maybe one and a half times–and that can help mask the problem.

Given his background as a starter, it’s not likely that Nova will be deployed in a mid-inning situation. However, his appearance against the Astros shows that his arsenal makes him well-equipped to handle those situations. Even out of the bullpen, his sinker is still getting ground balls and his curve is still getting swings-and-misses. Ivan the Reliever is an experiment born out of necessity, but after one trial run, it seems like it’s one that could set up both the team and the player for success.

DotF: Charleston gets no-hit in third game of the season

Both Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton were rained out. The RailRiders will make up their game as part of a doubleheader on April 29th. The Thunder will make up their game as part of a doubleheader on June 4th.

High-A Tampa (11-6 win over Lakeland) they were down 6-0 after four innings

  • SS Jorge Mateo: 2-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 CS, 1 E (fielding) — second triple of the season already
  • 1B Mike Ford: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — hit a game-tying grand slam in the seventh inning
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 SB
  • RF Austin Aune: 1-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 3 K — seven strikeouts in 14 plate appearances so far
  • LF Michael O’Neill: 3-5, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 K — Paulie’s nephew was a homer shy of the cycle
  • RHP Chance Adams: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 4/2 GB/FB — 47 of 74 pitches were strikes (64%) … he’s a reliever the Yankees are trying in the rotation, and, uh, the first start didn’t go so well
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 1 IP, zeroes, 1/2 GB/FB — nine of 14 pitches were strikes (64%) … he pitched Thursday and he’s right back in there tonight … seems like they want to get him a lot of work

[Read more…]

CC Sabathia, big hits lead the Yankees to an 8-4 win over the Tigers

(Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

Clearly, the cold didn’t bother the Yankee bats today. After being shut out by Jordan Zimmermann and company yesterday, New York struck back with an 8-4 victory thanks to dingers and a big Jacoby Ellsbury three-run triple. Oh yeah, and fifth starter CC Sabathia threw a solid game to start off his season, which is always neat.

Hot Offense In Cold Detroit

Al from Miami, playing in the frigid weather, delivered a solo homer in the first inning on a Mike Pelfrey 92-mph fastball down the zone. It looked like a solid line drive off the bat and just didn’t sink until clearing the left field fence. Talk about a frozen rope in freezing weather.

The Yankees padded their lead in the second inning. Brian McCann singled to lead off the inning, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. A Carlos Beltran ground out sent him to third. Starlin Castro failed to bring him in (grounded out weakly to first) but Didi Gregorius did the job by lining an RBI single to left. 2-0 Yanks.

They were far from done with Pelfrey. In the fourth inning, with one out, McCann walked and Beltran added another baserunner with a single. With two runners on, Castro hit a liner to right to J.D. Martinez that momentarily went into his glove, but dropped in for base hit. Because it appeared that Martinez made the catch for a second, McCann didn’t get a solid start and stopped at third base. With bases loaded, Gregorius hit a sac fly to bring McCann in. 3-0 Yankees. Ronald Torreyes’s infield single loaded the bases once again. Jacoby Ellsbury delivered the knockout blow by hitting a deep three-run triple that made it 6-0 Yanks. New York roughed up Pelfrey in his Detroit debut.

The circle change! (Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

Six Inning CC

The Yankee fifth starter, CC Sabathia, was up for a tough task: facing that Tigers lineup in the cold. It’s not like he came off of an inspiring Spring Training either (5.51 ERA in 16.1 IP). For the first three innings, however, he was literally perfect, throwing only 34 pitches as well. His fastball sat around 85-87 mph, which is more Mark Buehrleian than vintage Sabathian.

In the bottom of the fourth, however, the big man faltered a bit. Sabathia allowed his first baserunner in the fourth with a four-pitch walk to Ian Kinsler. After retiring Justin Upton, he walked Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez to load the bases. Maybe it was the cold or maybe it’s other things, but it was a totally different story with Sabathia’s command that inning. After striking out J.D. Martinez, Sabathia surrendered a two-run single to James McCann.

The bases were re-loaded with an Iglesias single, and up came Mike Aviles, who was 9-for-25 (.360) against Sabathia in his career. Aviles hit the first pitch hard to left but Brett Gardner ran in down to end the inning. That frame could have gone been a lot worse. 6-2 Yanks.

CC gave up another earned run in the seventh when Kirby Yates let the inherited runner score. Sabathia’s final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. All things considered, not a bad start. He is also the first Yankee starter this season to pitch six full innings, so there’s also that.

Rest of the Game

Just as the Tigers were close to bringing some momentum on their side after scoring two in fourth, the Yankees took it right back. In the top of fifth, McCann got on base with a single (again) and Carlos just launched a 92 mph fastball from Buck Farmer into the right field seats for a 8-2 lead. That pitch was up and center, and, well, you know what hitters like to do with mistakes like that.

The Yankees did surrender two more runs in the bottom of seventh: a Kirby Yates wild pitch and RBI ground out by Ian Kinsler. That was just about all the damage that Yankee bullpen allowed though. Joe Girardi plugged in the Dellin BetancesAndrew Miller duo to take care of the last two innings. They went as well as you’d expect: Dellin struck out the side in a scoreless inning and Miller struck out one in a perfect frame. Ho-hum. Yankees won 8-4 in the second game of the series.


Starlin Castro had two hits today – the second one happened to be the 1,000th of his career. He’s still a young guy – a 90’s kid (born in March 1990) so I think that makes it pretty impressive. Our Katie Sharp wrote earlier this week that, with that accomplishment, he’s in company with some special names.

Torreyes impressed in ST with his bat control and he showed off his skill today. Starting at third on Chase Headley‘s day off, he went 3-for-4, bringing his season average to .800 with a 2.000 OPS. Yes, they are in a grand total of five at-bats, but it’s cool to see someone like him finally have some ML fun after being sent around many teams last offseason.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Here’s the updated standings from ESPN, WPA from FanGraphs and the box score and video highlights from Knock yourself out if you want to bask into this win a bit more.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees play the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game tomorrow against the Tigers. It will be a matchup of highly-paid starters: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Justin Verlander.